'We have a mental health problem'

Linda Hatcher (right) and her daughter Schcreta Griffin pose at her apartment in Chicago. Both women have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and are clients of Woodlawn Adult Health Center. It upsets Linda Hatcher when strangers poke fun at people who are mentally ill. She feels compelled to speak up. "People look at us like we're not human beings, like we're nothing because we have a mental health problem," said Hatcher, sitting at her cluttered kitchen table, a red "Stop Closing Clinics" button pinned to her jacket. "I think that's wrong." It took Hatcher years to shed her shame of having bipolar disorder, a condition that requires her to take medication twice a day. Also known as manic-depressive illness, the brain disorder causes unusual shifts in mood, energy and ability to function. Symptoms can be severe, resulting in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance and suicide attempts.
Tribune photo by Kuni Takahashi
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